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Dear Ryan: Conservatives are not under seige from the media!

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Ryan Leef, Member of Parliament for Yukon

Dear Ryan,

A recent Conservative Party fundraising letter disguised as an anti-CBC rant and survey from propagandist, Fred DeLorey, was leaked to Friends of CBC.

DeLorey states, "Only a few press or media outlets ever give a fair shake to the strong stable leadership of Prime Minister Harper." He writes that media convergence is greatly complicating "our Conservative party efforts to present unfiltered facts and foundations behind our policies for economic growth."

In the letter, a number of statistics about media convergence are given without any explanation of how they would represent a "huge outreach challenge" to the Conservative Party. Nor do the statistics demonstrate that the media is picking on Conservatives. DeLorey reminds me of a stock character from Commedia Dell Arte. Il Dottori, (the doctor), is a puffed up poser who spews inflated distorted nonsense using big numbers and large words in an attempt to dazzle people.

Convergence of media is indeed a problem in Canada because it leaves the dissemination of information in the hands of the very wealthy, which should be good for the Conservative Party. Quebecor/Sun Media alone owns 34 per cent of all of daily newspapers in Canada. Sun News personalities such as Brian Lilley and Ezra Levant often use the same scripted language as Conservative propagandists. 

But the worst that these chain newspapers do is to under-report the news.

It would be interesting to see a professional survey on perceived bias in news reporting. However, Delorey's survey has only been sent to known Conservatives so the responses are not a valid sample of Canadian opinions. Is it our unfair first-past-the-post electoral system that encourages Conservative supporters and operatives alike to dismiss the opinions of 60 per cent of the population? 

If the Conservative government were truly interested in presenting the "unfiltered facts," would they be so secretive and so averse to answering questions? Further, it was a Harper government that fell because of a charge of contempt for Parliament over its refusal to disclose the "unfiltered facts" about the cost of their crime policy and what it knew about the fate of the Afghan detainees.

The best journalists pursue objectivity as best they can. If Mr. Harper looks like a manipulative dissembler and a bully in the media it might be because he has shown himself to be so.

The Conservative government is more interested in controlling the message than it is in presenting the facts. That is why DeLorey's letter attacks the media. That is why the Conservative Party is so determined to either take over or destroy the CBC.

Recently, Yukoners heard from CBC, that the federal government is colluding with the Yukon Party Government to streamline environmental protections contained in the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act through Bill S-6. Hearings were held in secret with First nations, business and mining groups. (So much for transparency and accountability!) According to Council of Yukon First Nations, the draft that came back to them bore little resemblance to what was talked about at the table.  (So much for a duty to consult!) The Council's Grand Chief, Ruth Massie said, "It seems like they have just opened the floodgates and it will be a free-for-all."

Now, if we lived in Alberta, where two corporations own five of the eight daily newspapers, this story would be under-reported. In the Post Media newspapers, Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, which now carry sponsored content, (i.e. propaganda disguised as news), it would be a few cherry-picked details and, "Move along folks. Nothing to see here." The Sun Media newspapers might not report it at all, just like they didn't cover the recent incident of the wife of a wounded war veteran chasing Veterans Affairs Minister, Julian Fantino down the hall. In Alberta, the only way one would hear complete coverage of this kind of story would be on CBC. And if CBC didn't exist, I doubt this story would be told at all. 

Luckily for Yukoners, we have two very good newspapers. But the majority of Canadians must rely on chain newspapers and the CBC. And CBC is dying the death of a thousand cuts.

And that is why Conservative propagandists send letters to "friendlies" that encourage them to think of themselves as being under siege from a left-wing media. It simultaneously diverts blame and helps justify destroying the one non-corporate institution in Canada that keeps everyone informed. 

Fred DeLorey may look like a fool, but he's not. He is merely playing to an audience he believes to be fools. 

A government that has to cheat, lie and stack the deck in order to maintain power, is by these actions, unworthy.

Linda Leon

Letters to Ryan Leef are published monthly in the Yukon News and in rabble.ca. Linda Leon is not now, nor has she ever been, a member of any federal political party.

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